By Samuel Koroma
The Smallholder Commercialization Programme (SCP) – Global Agriculture Food Security Programme is implementing a direct Tree crop support project to support three thousand farmers in its nine operational districts across Sierra Leone.
According to the Programme Manager, SCP-GAFSP project, Peter Kaindaneh, the $50million project by the Sierra Leone Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Food Security, is to provide support to one hundred thousand farmers countrywide.
In July 2003, at the African Union (AU) summit in Maputo, Mozambique, African leaders made a commitment to reverse the underinvestment that had held the agriculture sector back for so long. Through the Maputo Declaration, African heads of state made the following promises to their people to allocate at least 10% of national budgets to agriculture; and to achieve at least 6% annual agricultural growth.
The project, which is a grant for the people of Sierra Leone, will be implemented in the nine agricultural districts of Bo, Bonthe, Moyamba and Pujehun in the Southern region, Bombali, Tonkolili, Kambia and Port Loko in the Northern regions, and the Western Area Rural District.
The Northern districts of Port Loko, Kambia, Tonkolili, Bombali and Western Urban in the Western Area are not conventionally tree crop predominated areas as the IFAD operational areas are in in Kenema, Kono, Kabala and Koinadugu districts, which are districts with huge tree crop potentials.
“We have a mandate to help farmers in the projects’ nine operational areas with over three thousand hectares of tree crop,” Kaindaneh said, adding further “oil palm thrives in every part of the country we will expand tree crop activities in all our operational districts across the country.”
Kaindaneh said Palm Elite is a major distributor of improved Palm Oil variety across many countries in Africa, such as the Tenera, which he noted, is the variety planted by SOCFIN, Sierra Leone’s major palm oil industry.
“Already, Bo, Moyamba, Pujehun and Tonkolili, among the nine operational districts, have benefited from cocoa seedling distribution, because they are potential areas for cocoa plantation. The other five districts will get the Tenera improved variety palm oil seed let,” he said.
The SCP is the presidential flagship programme to boost agriculture as a business. It is part of the longer-term National Agriculture Investment Plan, the country’s national CAADP compact. The SCP attracted USD 50 million funding from GAFSP and many development partners aligned their support with one of the five pillars of the programme.
The FAO Representative to Sierra Leone, Nyabenyi Tipo stated in Freetown in March that agricultural investment projects resulting from the National Agriculture, Food Security and Nutrition Investment Plan (NAIP FSN) will be the main tool for resource mobilization and for concrete outcomes for the ECOWAS population.